Montevideo. [EFE]. While some rooms in the world empty their seats to maintain safe distances for the coronavirus and to reopen its doors in the immediate future, the cinephiles of Uruguay use their cars to enjoy the seventh art in two places as exotic as imposing: a lighthouse and an airport.

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Like fresh from a time machine, drive-in theaters, very popular in the mid-20th century in the United States, resurface in the Uruguay 2020 to renew entertainment in the pandemic, hand in hand with social distancing.

Hardly any precedent for drive-ins in Uruguay, where there was a cinema on the beach in Malvín (Montevideo), which ran between 1927 and 2017, as well as numerous outdoor festivals, including the José Ignacio International Festival, also on the coast, and the film festival generated with Bicycle pedaling Cinema to Pedal.

The only experiences in car cinema are quite recent and punctual: in 2008 tapes under this format were shown at the Maúa dam in Montevideo, and in 2009 Medio y Medio Films had a traveling drive-in.

Uruguay, the country that never decreed a total quarantine for coronavirus, is already on the path to normality. (. / Eitan ABRAMOVICH).

A new hope

In 2020, in the midst of a crisis in the rooms due to the pandemic, Aerolife was born, a giant-screen drive-in cinema with the iconic curvilinear architecture of Carrasco International Airport, on the outskirts of Montevideo, as a background landscape.

The general manager of the aerodrome, Matías Carluccio, recently explained in a video conference that the initiative, organized together with the Life Cinemas cinema and Magnolio Media Group (dedicated to the world of show business and communication), provides the public with “a new instance of entertainment.”

On the dynamics of the drive-in theater, whose opening took place a few days ago, Carluccio stressed that he complies with the sanitary measures established: between each car there must be more than a meter and a half away and people can only get out of the vehicle to go to the bathroom.

“This project is in the Carrasco Airport parking lot, which currently has a size of 1,200 cars, but we put it together as a movie theater for 90 to 95 cars and with a screen larger than that of a normal cinema, 20 by 11 meters ”, explained the manager.

The entrance (560 Uruguayan pesos, about $ 13, per vehicle) and consumptions are paid online and, if people get off the vehicle, they must do so with a mask.

Similar is the case of the Autocine Club del Uruguay, installed next to the Punta Carretas lighthouse (Montevideo). As the co-founder of the Efecto Cine Andrés Varela project pointed out to Efe, although there is capacity for 130 cars, 115 are enabled to adhere to the protocol (with an entry of 600 pesos, about $ 14).

Varela, whose project aims to “generate a club’s sense of belonging” with an integrating spirit, said that it was not easy to come up with a proposal adapted to this reality.

“In the first instance, the integration of permits, the structuring, the assembly, the question of which space was going to be indicated was complex,” he affirmed and clarified that it helped “a lot” that similar proposals arose in Germany or the United States so that the health authorities “already have an idea”.

Life is Beautiful

Both proposals go beyond that of traditional drive-in theaters since, due to the cancellation of public shows that has been in force since March 13, when the health emergency was decreed in Uruguay for the first cases of COVID-19, they are eager for a broader cultural journey.

Varela emphasized that the classic drive-in theater was “modernized” with gastronomic services and a variety of proposals, since they also aim to include dance, comedy and music performances.

“In the drive-in classics, there was never a show other than that, so we readapted. But a little is that spirit, to meet again with old formats that can help to recompose and give a new proposal to people at this very complex moment, “he stressed.

Along these lines, Carluccio highlighted that the airport stage is a “multi-maintenance” space, where concerts and humor shows to magic will take place.

The commercial manager of Life Cinemas, Mariana Arbelo, stressed that Aerolife has a heterogeneous programming and noted that, although a billboard with premieres is planned, this will be adjusted to what the public prefers.

In the case of the Drive-In Club, the programming, with premieres by the Movie theater, goes a little further and explores other ideas.

“We have the last minute releases and those that will come but at the same time a certain game with the programming; There are classics to play with this ‘vintage’ issue of the drive-in theater and we also understand that it is important that there be national production, ”said Varela.

A man and his daughter wear face masks while exercising along the Rambla in Montevideo, on May 14, 2020. (Eitan ABRAMOVICH / AFP).A man and his daughter wear face masks while exercising along the Rambla in Montevideo, on May 14, 2020. (Eitan ABRAMOVICH / .).

gone With the Wind

The organizers detailed that both vision and sound are good: audio through the radio of each car or, failing that, with portable radios and visibility is guaranteed throughout the venue.

However, the common enemy of both projects is bad weather, considering that Montevideo is a city where strong winds blow.

In the face of precipitation, intense wind or fog, the organizers of Aerolife suggest that the function is suspended when it prevents the good visibility of the film and the Autocine Club proposes the same, proposing a 20-minute wait for it to cease.

Despite these complications, both Carluccio and Varela stated that the drive-ins will continue to function, in the case of Aerolife for two months and in the Drive-In Club for three months, with the possibility for the latter to expand with new rooms in Montevideo and functions in the inside the country.

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